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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Blurb for BEYOND THE PROPHECY--Another Take

   
Author Topic: Blurb for BEYOND THE PROPHECY--Another Take
Meredith
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Okay, let's try this. (Lacked focus. That was the key. Thank you, MAP.):

quote:
The foundations of Vatar’s world are unraveling.

Being one of a handful graced—or cursed—with both kinds of magic makes Vatar the target of those who think he’s too dangerous.

The Council that rules his adopted city has guaranteed safety for him and his family in return for his promise not to expose their secrets. But they’ve already failed to keep their part of the bargain.

One Council member sees him as an obstacle to furthering her power. Gerusa launches an unsanctioned attack on Vatar and his family. When that fails, she is forced to flee the city.

But that’s far from the end. Even from exile, Gerusa exerts influence, causing the city to churn with unrest and uncertainty. It’s clear that her goal is to unseat the Council and replace it with herself as sole ruler.

Unable to trust the Council, Vatar sets out to stop her.

But when he’s captured, he’ll be forced to prove his boast that it’s impossible to imprison anyone who can do what he can—or die.

Second try:

quote:
The foundations of Vatar’s world are unraveling.

His adopted city churns with unrest and uncertainty. Trade embargoes by a former ally threaten food shortages. And the remaining supplier of the city’s needs is beset by a mysterious enemy attacking their best farmland.

Being one of a handful graced—or cursed—with both kinds of magic places Vatar at the center it all. Pulled in several directions, he struggles to find the right course, not always making the right choice.

Trying to circumvent the blockade is hazardous. When he’s captured, he’ll have to prove his boast that it’s impossible to imprison anyone who can do what he can—or die.

If his inborn magic and the help of his clan’s totem Spirit aren’t enough, he’ll have to try something entirely new—borrowing a little help from his wife’s totem, the eagle.

Previous version:

quote:
Being one of a handful graced—or cursed—with both kinds of magic places Vatar at the center of two potential wars.

In the uncertainty following rebellion, a former ruler wants to subjugate his adopted city—and get revenge on Vatar for her downfall. Meanwhile, even older enemies threaten the plains-dwelling tribe in which he was raised—as a means of getting revenge on Vatar for their exile. Only magic can provide a reliable defense. Magic the plains people fear more than any enemy.

Vatar strains to find solutions to both threats. But when he’s captured, he’ll have to prove his boast that it’s impossible to imprison anyone who can do what he can—or die.

Regrettably, Vatar might have been wrong. If his inborn magic and the help of his clan’s totem Spirit aren’t enough, can he borrow a little help from his wife’s totem, the Eagle?

If it matters, there's a white bird of prey on the cover. (Supposed to be an eagle, but the only white raptor I could find was a gyrfalcon. [Roll Eyes] ) You can see the cover here.

[ July 03, 2015, 12:21 PM: Message edited by: Meredith ]

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extrinsic
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A digital graphic artist could retouch a non-copyrighted photo or licensed or personally copyright-held photo of a suitable golden eagle to make it white. One step of the retouch process to make the eagle white is to invert the image to a negative.
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Grumpy old guy
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Unfortunately, the gyrfalcon's tail looks nothing like an eagles. With simple photo-editing software, such as PhotoFiltre, if you can obtain a commercially useable image of an eagle in flight, simply convert the image to black and white and then invert the values; create a negative of the image as suggested by extrinsic. Once that's done, trace the outline and copy and paste in to your preferred cover design.

As for the blub: the second and third sentences seem like a clumsy way to say that two people , or groups, want to exact their revenge on Vatar; one because they were deposed from power, the other because they were exiled.

Phil.

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Meredith
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Thanks for the suggestions. Actually, the gyrfalcon works just fine. The idea is to make a cover that will entice the reader and give enough of an indication of what to expect in the book, not to accurately depict a scene. I doubt readers will feel cheated when they get an eagle in the text.
And I didn't find an eagle image I liked as well anyway. (I do my own covers.)

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Meredith
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I took a sample photo and tried the black and white conversion. I'll stick with the gyrfalcon.

Working on the blurb. It's a long process.

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extrinsic
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My effort to turn a golden eagle into a white eagle used a color invert to negative image. The image was too low a resolution for my satisfaction though the colors were appealing blue shades and, of course, the white, and light gray hues. A few other retouching passes added warm gold highlights for contrast.

If I were to use that method for a cover art, I would also trace the photo for conversion to a vector graphic, which, if managed artfully, has a vibrant and sharp watercolor-like appearance.

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Scot
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The end of the third sentence leaves me nonplussed. Does he have to prove that he can't be imprisoned or else he'll die? Or is it impossible to imprison someone who can die?

When I think about what it's saying, I get it, but I don't know if you can trust that people reading the blurb are going to be the most cooperative. To me it winds up a little too close to a Monty Python joke. "I got better."

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WB
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Everyone's talking about the pic, but I'll assume you also want comments on the words!

I struggled to get the meaning of, well, each paragraph.

>Being one of a handful graced—or cursed—with both kinds of magic places Vatar at the center of two potential wars.

could be

> The wizard Vatar is master of both kinds of magic -- A, and B -- and that puts him right in the middle of two upcoming wars.

Not saying you need to say it this way, but this puts the MC's name up front; puts in a gender pronoun so we know in the first sentence it's a "he" (I thought it was a she to begin with); tells us what those 2 types of magic are; and (as before) gives us a stake.

I'm still not sold. I don't know why having 2 kinds of magic would put you in the middle of 2 wars. I also don't know if we should be alarmed for him. He seems powerful.

But mostly I don't know why I should read the book. There are plot details. But what's the cool thing that makes me need to read this?

Did you write a query to the agent or publisher for this? Can we see it?

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by WB:

Did you write a query to the agent or publisher for this? Can we see it?

No. The first two books in this series are already indie published (successfully--the first one got me into SFWA). So I didn't write a query, though writing a blurb is very similar. I think part of the problem is that this is the third book in the series. Readers of the first two would know the answers to some of the questions that have been raised. And some simply would not fit in the space available.
I'll keep working on it.

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Scot
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Kudos, by the way, on the past SFWA nomination!
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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by Scot:
Kudos, by the way, on the past SFWA nomination!

Thank you. It's not precisely a nomination, though. You apply. SFWA just this year began accepting applications from self-published authors. But for SFWA you have to show that you've earned a minimum amount from a single title. Either book in this series (so far) would have qualified.
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Meredith
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Another version above.
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Grumpy old guy
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Not certain which one is the newest version.

Phil.

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Meredith
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The top one.
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MAP
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Here is my take.

quote:
The foundations of Vatar’s world are unraveling.

His adopted city churns with unrest and uncertainty. Trade embargoes by a former ally threaten food shortages. And the remaining supplier of the city’s needs is beset by a mysterious enemy attacking their best farmland. trade embargoes and food supply feels more political than adventurous is that what you intend? or is there a bigger picture with higher stakes you could hint at here.

Being one of a handful graced—or cursed—with both kinds of magic places Vatar at the center it all.why? Is he a city leader? Pulled in several directions, he struggles to find the right course, not always making the right choice.

Trying to circumvent the blockade is hazardous. When he’s captured, he’ll have to prove his boast that it’s impossible to imprison anyone who can do what he can—or die. So is he prideful? Is his pride a vice that he needs to overcome? Still looking for hints of a bigger picture.

If his inborn magic and the help of his clan’s totem Spirit aren’t enough, he’ll have to try something entirely new—borrowing a little help from his wife’s totem, the eagle.So he's put in a difficult situation, but you've given us the answer to the problem. He can just borrow power from his wife. There is no tension, no reason to read the book to see how he solves his problem.

I feel like this is all the set up to the story. I don't think you need to give away the main plot, but some hints as to what problems Vatar is going to face would be nice. From what you've given, I don't see enough to carry a whole book. What is the bigger picture?

Although since this is the third book in a series, most readers who enjoyed the first two will read on regardless. [Smile]

Good Luck!

[ July 03, 2015, 03:03 AM: Message edited by: MAP ]

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JSchuler
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Here's what I would do:

quote:
The foundations of Vatar’s world are unraveling.

His adopted city churns with unrest and uncertainty. ::Specific examples of the "several directions" Vatar is pulled in and their conflict::

When his best laid plans crumble, Vatar learns that his two magics will not be enough. He must draw on another power to stop/save ::x::, even at the risk of ::y::

I need stakes, basically.
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Grumpy old guy
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This continues to bother me:

"Being one of a handful graced—or cursed—"

Is he actually cursed, do people only think he's cursed, or does he just think he's cursed, or is this just a throw-away line that you read in every sword and sorcery blurb?

Phil.

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by Grumpy old guy:
This continues to bother me:

"Being one of a handful graced—or cursed—"

Is he actually cursed, do people only think he's cursed, or does he just think he's cursed, or is this just a throw-away line that you read in every sword and sorcery blurb?

Phil.

He grew up in a group that has a strong superstitious fear of magic. (For historical reasons that don't come into this story. Someday I may write the prequel stories.) He still has a somewhat ambivalent attitude toward his own magic. And tries to hide it from all but a few people--when he can.
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Meredith
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Thanks MAP. I think you gave me the key to why I've been struggling so much with this one. May take a while to work through.
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Meredith
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Third version above. Better?

A couple of quick notes, just to clarify. I'm trying to have first and last lines that can be highlighted on the book's amazon description. (They allow a certain amount of html.)

Also, the line--or something like it--about the two kinds of magic. The title of the series is DUAL MAGICS, so I would like that element in the blurb. If it works.

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Scot
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This blurb is definitely getting better. I find myself much more intrigued to find out how these power struggles are going to play out. I don't have much affinity for the main character, but that's something your returning readers won't have trouble with.

Nice job on implementing these revisions.

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Disgruntled Peony
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Your blurb has reached the point where I am officially intrigued and interested. Seems solid!
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extrinsic
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Graced and cursed or blessed and cursed as an idiom bases upon the saying gifted-ness is as much a blessing, or grace, as a curse. Blessed by a curse, cursed by a grace, etc. Vatar is blessed by a curse of two forbidden magics, for example, both graced and cursed more so than graced or cursed.

However, stronger focus could imply what the magics are. An eagle totem is an animist belief; a spirit is an ancestor or natural force belief, for example. Great Spirits are traditionally natural-world forces, lightning and storms, meteorological, geological, celestial; earthly spirits are traditionally returned dead ancestors. Nature spirits, animals and plants, etc., reflect life and death forces.

A focal revision might also excise conjunctions, prepositions, and adverbs that are emotionally and emphatically (grammatical mood) empty.

[ July 03, 2015, 07:42 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Grumpy old guy
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Much better, it tells me the story without giving away too much of the plot. I have a couple of 'artistic' issues.

I would alter the end of this:

"One Council member sees him as an obstacle to furthering her power." To something like: One Council member sees him as an obstacle in her quest for power.

I would alter the end of this:

"It’s clear that her goal is to unseat the Council and replace it with herself as sole ruler." To something like this: It’s clear that her goal is to unseat the Council and take power for herself.

Just a suggestion.

Phil.

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JSchuler
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I like the third better, though it does strike me as a bit wordy. "Makes Vatar the target of those who think he’s too dangerous" vs. "makes Vatar a target," or "but they’ve already failed to keep their part of the bargain" vs. "they failed," as examples.

This helps make the language be more active as well.

-"Even from exile, Gerusa exerts influence, causing the city to churn with unrest and uncertainty."

-"From exile, Gerusa churns the city with unrest and uncertainty." (might want to try something like "roil" instead of "churn." "Churn" is too... rhythmic... to mesh cleanly with "uncertainty.")

Go through and cut every extraneous word. Pare it down to only what's necessary to get the thought across. Then read it again.

Once that's done, you have more space, and can possibly answer some of these questions:

Does Gerusa have a goal beyond gaining power? What's the bad thing that happens if she succeeds? Why don't we want her in power? What is it about her goals that make her a compelling villain?
Are the secrets Vatar keeps worthy of being kept? Is it for the sake of the city or the council members at the city's expense? What choice does the Council's failure open up? Why wouldn't Vatar spill the beans if they have nothing to offer him?

Show that the stakes are turned up to 11.

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